Pop culture starts to critique party culture
This fall, 17-year-old singer/songwriter Alessia Cara’s new song, “Here,” became one of the radios top picks for songs that they make us despise due to its copious amounts of plays. Despite their efforts, “Here” is one of those songs I don’t mind. In the song, Alessia Harris explores the nuances of feeling trapped in the unspoken social contract that is party culture. After describing her undesirable setting, she ultimately laments to the listener that she would rather be anywhere else but “Here.” In short, she’s over the boys, the gossip, music and most importantly, she’s over pretending that she wants to be among this ruckus of “youth and circumstance.” Cara voices the phrases many dare not utter, but yells loudly within the confines of their inner thoughts: “But really, I would rather be at home all by myself. Not in this room with people who don't even care about my well-being ... I'd rather be somewhere with my people, we can kick it and just listen to some music with a message, like we usually do.” The song forces the question, why do we put up with these things? Why do we allow ourselves to become victims to this cycle of predictable sophomoric antics weekend after weekend? Are we getting too old for this or is this getting too old for us? Is our generation’s laughable excuse for a good time finally getting the criticism from actors on its own stage?
The answer just might be yes.
Recently, cultural icon Chance The Rapper teamed up with UK producer Snakehips and singer/songwriter Tinashe to create their new song, “All My Friends.” The song also examines party culture, but zooms in on the negative effects of drinking. The hook deceptively chants, “all my friends are wasted,” a common hook given the song's of our era, but the lyrics in-between the hooks give the lively sung anthem a different context. Similar to Alessia Harris, Tinashe describes her party experiences as feeling like “the only human heaving in the heat of animals.” Soon, we realize that the hook’s happy chant is actually a sad lament on the current situation. Chance’s verse delves into the more sensitive topic of drug abuse, that also finds a breathing ground at parties (college parties in particular). He states, “We reinvent the wheel just to fall asleep at it,” later he adds “Dying is for real, n—s dying off the pill. Friday’s are for chill, not to escape the treachery.” Essentially, Chance notes that young people live in a world that is far more advanced than previous generations, yet we let substance abuse stifle our progress at such a young age. The second line discusses how our generation falls victim to, and uses “Friday” as an excuse to abuse drugs in order to escape the treachery of life.
Mainstream music typically creates a platform for artists to advertise the romantic aspect of party life. At last it seems that, slowly but surely, enough is becoming enough? Mainstream/up-and-coming artists cannot resist the urge to speak on these blaring issues and subtle nuances of the times. The next question is, will this acknowledgement of our generation’s ennui with the inane trivialities of social get-togethers incite a cultural-party-revolution? Will the fans of the artists voicing their opinion have a second thought before downing the drink that takes their intoxication level far beyond the level of accountability for their actions? Only time will tell. And will other cultural icons catch on? It is one thing to view public service announcements in-between YouTube videos with solemn music and a string of obscure actors, advising you not to drink or pop pills. But what happens when your Thursday night turn-up music is encouraging you to turn down just a tad?
I do not think artists are being judgmental or insinuating that drinking and throwing parties is inherently inane. I do believe what we are seeing is a desire for more. If we are to have fun and enjoy our young selves, then why not do it in a way so that we can remember it tomorrow, and the moments be worth remembering?
Michael Anderson is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies with a minor in Africana studies.